All About Lessons

What You Should Expect at Your First Lesson

For the near term, my lessons are online, so here is how to prepare: Since I use Zoom, FaceTime or Skype, to connect, I’ll need an email (which I most likely already would have), or a Skype user name (mine is jacktuttlemusic). If you can, work out the framing of yourself in the camera ahead of time. I need to see both the right and left hands. I think having our faces visible makes for a more natural lesson. I move my instrument and hands up to the camera for closeups if my students that – being mobile that way can help. Depending on the student, I may be sending files, (pdfs, sound, or video) possibly right in the moment. Since I have two monitors going, this is fairly easy. All in all, I think online lessons are working pretty well!

Words from pre-online:
The question I get asked most often is “What should I bring to the first lesson?” You only need to bring your instrument and some way to record me playing the material that you’ll be working on. If you need picks, you can get them right at Gryphon. For most students, I generally use my own lesson books ($20), which you can purchase from me directly at the first lesson. For advanced students, or if you want to learn something other than the norm, my books may not be necessary. For payment, I take cash, Venmo (no fees!), Google Wallet (no fees!), Apple Pay Cash (no fees!), checks, PayPal, credit cards and just recently added Bitcoin (I am in Palo Alto after all). Lessons are $50 for a half hour. All lessons are at Gryphon: 211 Lambert Ave, Palo Alto, CA, 94306

If you already play some, I’ll want to hear you play a little, though it need not be much. This is simply for me to quickly assess where you are. Most of my new students have some trouble playing at their best due to nervousness, so don’t worry if your hands get a little tied up – I’ve seen it all before. And if you’re a total beginner, relax, I won’t expect you to play for me at all, at least until I’ve shown you something.

If you have strong ideas of what direction you want to pursue (improvising, improving technique, increasing repertoire, learning to play in a specific style, etc.), let me know. Or if you just want to be led to the place I think you should go, that’s fine too. I do try to make the lessons as low stress as possible, and I’m told I’m a pretty low-key guy, so hopefully it won’t be too intimidating taking a lesson, if you worry about such things. Most of my students actually get to where they like their lessons!

What I Charge

Half hour lessons cost $50. I teach every range, from beginner to advanced. I teach 6 days a week (Mon – Sat) and start as early as 10:30 AM and go as late as 8 PM. I do require a 24 hour notice for cancellation – less than that and sorry, but you’re still charged. Group lesson charges vary by the class, but are usually $190 for a eight-week, one hour class. For payment, I take cash, Venmo (no fees!), Google Wallet (no fees!), Apple Pay Cash (no fees!), checks, PayPal (prefer the “send a friend” option (no fees!).

What I Teach

I teach Fiddle, Mandolin, Banjo, Guitar, String Bass and Bluegrass Vocals. Click on the link to get details on how I teach your instrument of choice.

Where I Teach

As of March 2020, I teach all lessons online, via Zoom, FaceTime and Skype.

With the current state of affairs, I’ve moved all of my lessons to online. I’m using Zoom, FaceTime and Skype. It’s working pretty well, and I’m enjoying the challenge of figuring out how to get the most out of online lessons. Luckily, I have tons of written material that can be digitized, tons of mp3s for students and can easily make one-off backing tracks for students to play along with. So it’s got me with my head back in the lesson production business, just with an all new focus!

During more normal times, I teach at Gryphon Stringed Instruments in Palo Alto, California. Very cool, one-of-a-kind store – we’re very lucky to have a store like this around here. Gryphon is located at 211 Lambert Avenue (corner of Park and Lambert). Directions are here or call 650-493-2131. It’s very close to the Palo Alto Fry’s Electronics.

The Best Way To Improve

What is the best way to improve your playing? Lessons and feedback help a lot. However, there are some basic things that you can work on every day. Go to my Tips & Technique page.

Weekly Lessons

Most of my students have a weekly time slot. To set up a weekly time slot you need to Contact Me.

Single Lessons

If you are just beginning to play, then setting up a single lesson could be the best way to get started, but anyone can take random lessons. This may be the best fit if you don’t have enough time to commit to weekly lessons or if you have just a few questions you want answered, if you aren’t sure if you are ready for weekly lessons, or you just want to see if I’m the right teacher for you. To look for an open spot you can go to my Schedule a Lesson page.

Group Lessons

I have a variety of group lessons that I occasionally give, from beginner level to advanced. Usually they are hour-long classes that run for 8 weeks, but sometimes I do a special one-day workshop. You can visit my Group Lessons page to see the upcoming classes.

Who Takes Lessons From Me?

My students come from Palo Alto, Mountain View, Menlo Park, San Jose, Sunnyvale, Cupertino, Los Altos, Lost Gatos, Redwood City, San Mateo, Woodside, Fremont, Hayward, Burlingame – all over Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties and sometimes from farther away. But as traffic has gotten heavier, the range has decreased. I do have students from the East Bay and San Francisco, though usually not on a weekly basis. I teach all levels from beginning to advanced.